Kendal Nutricare, the makers of ‘Kendamil’ infant formula, has beaten off stiff competition to be crowned the UK’s Best Small Business in this year’s annual FSB & Worldpay UK Business Awards.
Just eighteen months ago, Ross McMahon bought a struggling local factory that had cut its workforce by more than 70 per cent and reported losses of £4 million. Fast forward to today and the Kendal Nutricare CEO is riding high. The pharma research company can boast a thriving wholesale and direct retailing business, driven almost entirely by exports to China.
The company’s ‘Kendamil’ brand of infant formula incorporates full-cream natural nutrients and essential fatty acids from cow’s milk. In addition to becoming the only infant formula on British shelves to be actually manufactured in Britain, the product is stocked in more than 8,000 Chinese stores.
On collecting his prizes for the night, including a cheque for £12,000, and a year’s honorary FSB membership, CEO McMahon said: “To have our achievements recognised at a national event like this is beyond words. These awards offer something special for businesses like ours, who have worked night and day to build something from the ground up. We’re grateful to be a part of it, and we’re delighted to have won.”
Now in their fourth year, the FSB & Worldpay UK Business Awards celebrate the best small businesses from the length and breadth of the country, offering national recognition for those who have made the biggest impression over the last 12 months.
This year, approximately 800 entrants showcased exceptional achievements in innovation, entrepreneurship, social responsibility and everything in between, with highlights including a luxury knitting brand and a rural bug farm. The winners were announced by entrepreneur and winner of BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ Tim Campbell MBE at the ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe on the evening of 10 May.
Commenting on the event, Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Congratulations to all this year’s award winners who are reflective of the vibrancy, innovation and tenacity that makes up the UK’s 5.5 million-strong small business community. These are 5.5 million entrepreneurs – they’ve taken a risk, they’ve worked hard, and they have made something out of nothing. This benefits us all. When our small businesses succeed, so does the UK economy.”
The FSB & Worldpay Business Awards feature 11 award categories – Micro Business, Online Business (sponsored by Ascent), Business and Product Innovation (sponsored by FSB Insurance Services), Business Exporter (sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions), Ethical Business, Family Business, Community Business, Start-up of the Year and Employer of the Year (sponsored by FSB Workplace Pensions in association with Legal & General) – as well as the Lifetime Achievement and Young Entrepreneur awards.
The full list of winners is:
Micro Business of the Year
Winner: Durham Hens Limited, Bishop Auckland
Durham Hens started as a hobby for manager Margaret Manchester, when she struggled to find hens to buy locally. From these humble beginnings, the business is now one of the largest hen retailers in the UK, not to mention the largest producer of pure and rare breed chickens. In spite of having just six employees, the Durham Hens team also finds time to sell poultry supplies through e-commerce, and have developed and manufactured several unique products of their own.
Best Start Up of the Year
Winner: Learning Heroes, Warrington
Trading since 2015, Leaning Heroes says it is 'here to save the world from boring e-learning'. Learning Heroes trades over three continents, supplying major blue chips, the public sector and charities. It has 16 employees, over 300 customers, and a turnover of more than £1 million. The company says it expects to grow by 300 per cent in 2017.
Business and Product Innovation of the Year (Sponsored by FSB Insurance Services)
Winner: Womanzone, Warrington
Womanzone works with women who have undergone surgery following breast cancer, supplying breast prostheses into the NHS and direct to women themselves. After discharge, the team provide an innovative post-op kit to patients, which comprises of a bra and temporary prosthetic breast ahead of the permanent prosthesis fitting, helping to relieve anxiety on the trip home. Womanzone also works closely with NHS nurses, offering training courses to help those who want to provide this service direct to patients.
Business Exporter of the Year (Sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions)
Winner: Kendal Nutricare, Kendal
Kendal Nutricare is a pharmaceutical research company that manufactures nutrition-based products, including own-brand infant formula ‘Kendamil’ – a traditional whole-milk recipe and the only infant formula on British shelves to be manufactured in Britain. In just 18 months, the factory has been taken from a loss of £4 million to break even, almost entirely thanks to export success.
Ethical Business of the Year
Winner: Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Cumbria
Family owned Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, located in Cumbria, has been in business for over 40 years. Its main attraction is 130 acres of unspoiled woodland, abundant with wildlife. Skelwith Fold operates a policy of sustainable management, including many conservation initiatives designed to protect the indigenous flora and fauna, and to promote working in harmony with the natural world. Recent developments include the introduction of electric bikes, which encourage guests to swap their cars for a more sustainable form of transport when exploring the surrounding countryside.
Online Business of the Year (Sponsored by Ascent)
Winner: Learning Heroes, Warrington
Learning Heroes’ goal is to save the world from boring E-learning, using sharp, engaging content that meets the expectations of a modern learner. Currently, the site boasts over 270 courses and 1660 training resources in its library, with new content added each week based on user suggestions. With customers ‘more like fans’, the company continues to go from strength to strength, and anticipates a 300 per cent growth in 2017.
Best Family Business of the Year
Winner: Go Below Underground Adventures Ltd, Conwy
Go Below Underground Adventures is a family run business based in North Wales. For adventurers everywhere, it offers tours through the local abandoned slate mines where guests can indulge in various thrill-seeking activities. For those who don’t fancy climbing, traversing or abseiling, expert trip leaders also reveal the history of the mine and offer a tour of the ancient artefacts inside.
Community Business of the Year
Winner: Love Your Doorstep, Enfield
Set up in 2011 following the London Riots, Love Your DoorStep was created to re-establish a sense of community in London. Now the largest community forum in North London, it putsmembers in touch with trusted local businesses, guiding them to the services right on their doorstep and helping to bring money back into the local economy. Currently there are over 17,000 local people in the forum, supporting over 500 locally based businesses. Self-funded, Love Your Doorstep also supports schools, charities, community groups, the council and the local police.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: GoCode Academy, Milton Keynes
An in-house web development boot-camp based in Milton Keynes, the GoCode Academy trains young people and adults to kick-start a career in web development. The 12 week course provides students with a better understanding of how a website is created, taking it from initial design stages to the final product, so they can land a junior developer role or launch their own business once the course is completed. The GoCode team also runs a 10-week Saturday course for 12-18 year olds, aiming to inspire the next generation of coders.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Barry Pegrum, Sector Projects Ltd, Chiddingford
Mr Pegrum is a sole trader who began his career began at 17, working in the wind tunnels on the Hawker Harrier prototype P1127, and since then he has gone on to become the world's leading designer of counter-terrorist training facilities worldwide. Occupation highlights have included developing the world's most sophisticated counter-terrorist training base for Jordan's King Abdullah, the £800m Gemas training facility in Malaysia, and the Mersing Special Forces Base, Malaysia. In his long career, he has masterminded many unique systems still in use today, the latest being an instant housing system for disaster relief, refugees, hospital overspill accommodation and similar crises.
Employer of the Year (Sponsored by FSB Workplace Pensions in association with Legal & General)
Winner: The Tavistock Institute, London
Established as a not-for-profit organisation with charitable purpose in 1947, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) applies social science to contemporary issues and problems. The Institute is engaged with evaluation and action research, organisational development and change consultancy, and executive coaching and professional development – all in service of supporting sustainable change and ongoing learning. Primarily, the TIHR is dedicated to the study of human relations for the purpose of bettering working life and conditions for all people, whether within their organisations or others, and to the influence of environment on the formation of human character.